I was able to a long form interview with Cr1t-, position 4 player for EG. The interview was done on August 19th at The International 8. It was the day after group stages ended and before the playoffs started. During this interview, we talked about a plethora of topics including:
- The Problems with the older EG rosters
- The Roster shuffle with Fly/S4
- His views on the various leaders of EG, including himself
- The Arteezy and Suma1L duo
- The evolution of the drafting coach being integrated into the game
- His Dota2 knowledge, using OG 2016 as an example
- What was different for him at TI8 compared to previous years
Let’s talk a bit about the beginning of the season. At the end of TI6, you guys made some changes since then. What did you think of those changes like the removal of UNiVeRsE. So what did you think of that iteration of the team. What did you think of the overall cohesion of that team?
So I think at a point during this year we were really comfortable with each other because the only player we changed was zai after TI7. We replaced him with Fear, who was already part of the team as he was coaching us for the entire year before that. So we were super comfortable with each other and it was kind of…not too good for us. It’s a bad mix sometimes of being too comfortable…there are the positives and the negatives. Sometimes you don’t want to talk to each other in a certain way. I feel like we were in a place on the team where everyone shifted the blame on somebody else. So if something happened in the game someone would be like, “But yeah you did this.” It was all of us. So we just realized that something had to change.
Personally, I wasn’t very happy about the change at the time because I was ready to go with the team for the whole year until TI. That’s something that I’ve wanted to do every year. I want to stick with the same team that I formed with at the start like with what we did at the previous TI. So when we did it, I was not too happy about it. The replacement was MISERY which was a bit suspect about at the time but I could see why the others wanted to play with them. So we did it and I wasn’t against it, or I would have voiced it. I was pretty close to UNiVeRsE and so I was the one least fond of the idea. But I could see that the other people wanted something to change. So it’s just one of those things.
So let’s talk a bit about MISERY because I remember reading an interview from yours. Paraphrasing what you said, it was something like MISERY wasn’t necessarily the right type of leader for your team because he’s strict. So you guys went with a different leader Fly. So I wanted to ask you what do you think the difference is between MISERY and Fly?
The basic difference is that Fly makes people feel like they’re listened to. Even if sometimes he just listens, but he doesn’t necessarily change anything. MISERY is pretty straightforward. He wasn’t listening to anyone at all. He was kind of just doing his own thing. Sometimes he would listen to Bulba, but those were pretty forced. I felt like it was hindering us a lot that people didn’t feel like they were really heard. They lost a lot of trust. Also, we told him that there were some things about his game that people wanted him to change and it didn’t change.
So I want to talk about this last shuffle had EG get both S4 and Fly. Was this something you guys had been thinking about for a little bit because things haven’t been going well with misery. On the other side OG were a good team, but weren’t necessarily improving. You have a past history with being very successful with Fly and S4 and so did Arteezy. How did how did the idea come about?
So we were playing a tournament, I think it was in Thailand. We lost to Keen gaming. After that tournament we were pretty mad at each other, specifically, people were pretty mad at MISERY. They felt like he wasn’t really playing his role. He was doing fine with drafts, but his in game play he was not on par. We were pretty disappointed after the tournament and we talked to him. We felt like he listened to us and we thought we were going to change. We had a good camp before Birmingham. But after Birmingham it was the same things as previous tournaments. It was too much for people. So after that, we realized that we probably wanted to change the team before TI.
I’ll be honest it wasn’t really my idea. It was pretty close to the qualifiers and we had one more major to go to, the super major. So for me, I was pretty sad about the Birmingham tournament, but at the same time I felt like it was the smartest play to just stick together and try to work through it. It was kind of the same thing as the UNiVeRsE shuffle. I wasn’t necessarily too fond of the idea of changing the team, but I could see why it was necessary. I think…pretty fast people realized which players they wanted to play with. Suma1L wanted to go back to mid. That was a really big thing for him. There were a few ideas going around.
We wanted to play with Fear still . There’s nothing wrong with playing with Fear, but he would have to play a different role because Suma1l wanted to play mid. So the whole idea was we wanted to just get S4, because we just needed an offlaner. But then we talked to Fly and he’s a top tier captain. The option of getting those two together was too good for us to be able to keep Fear. It would be a new role for Fear and it’s not his best role. He’d have to step it up pretty fast as well as being a captain. So it was just like the perfect deal for us. We weren’t sure about Fly, there was some weird situation with OG. But we told them that we really wanted to play with them.
Let’s talk about the idea of Sumail and Arteezy. The idea of the two superstar players has been floated around, but no one ever found an answer to the puzzle. PPD couldn’t do it, and your iteration was a bit up and down. But right now this version seems to be working very well. Is there something inherent and like that team dynamic that makes this the case? Is it because s4 is a more sacrificial offlaner or something else?
Well it’s a long question, but I think if we’re talking about Sumail and RTZ there was never a problem between the two of them playing together. If we’re talking about the era with ppd, I think he was the biggest problem of why they didn’t work together. It was just a pretty poorly managed team and I think there’s a lot of blame on him. I think for last year, when I was a captain, we had a really good year. We were one of the most successful teams during that season. Obviously it didn’t go well for us at TI and I think a big part of that was probably my captaining. So there’s not much to say about the partnership of Sumail and RTZ. They’ve been pretty successful together, if you’re comparing them to other duos.
For this team the difference is that we have a captain that is a captain who plays a five role. It was something I couldn’t really do and something Misery couldn’t really do. So that’s probably the biggest difference is Fly being able to to be a captain and a five player . Gustav is a solid offlaner who can play with every player on it. He’s very smart, so it’s not very hard for him to adapt to having two big superstar players.
So let’s talk about your own play and captaincy. As you pointed out you had a very successful year. However, you and zai filled the same type of role. So one of you had to sacrifice. Now you brought back Fly and showing a superstar level like you did on OG. How do you view it? Is this a real narrative or do you think it was some other factor?
I think for me personally in my play it was all about having an actual five player on my team. I think the first half we had Fear as a captain. It was pretty successful. Not much bad, it wasn’t great. It wasn’t really Fear’s most illustrious role as a captain and a five. It was okay for us and I was also getting back to playing four. So I wasn’t doing too well. I think I had the resources to do well. In the second half of the year I think I had a really hard time playing my role because we had a five player that didn’t really want to play his role. He was kind of not doing his job. I think when it comes to zai last year it was sort of the same problem.
Sometimes he had to sacrifice his own gameplay because I wasn’t used to playing five or it wasn’t natural to me. I took a lot of the blame for zai not being in the play his role on the last team. It’s something that I could recognize in the last part of the year. So yeah, I guess there’s some similarities there. I think as of now I feel pretty comfortable. I feel like I have players that believe in my ability and I feel like I have also captain that helps me out so I don’t have to buy all the support stuff.
Earlier you guys had to do a lot in a very short amount of time. There was the SuperMajor, the Summit, and the qualifiers. But we look at this group stage and you guys are doing great. It’s possible to say you guys are setting the meta right now. the What did you guys do in the interim to prepare for TI?
So we had the qualifiers for TI. That was the first thing for us, we had to prepare for that. We focused on some heroes that we were comfortable with. We played a lot of Fly Phoenix because that was a hero that he knew how to really control the map with. That was the base of our whole drafting idea on this team. For everything else there was a basic drafting pattern that we used for the qualifiers and most teams still do it. You know, you pick your supports early, you get your cores later. It’s pretty basic drafting stuff. I think recently at the Summit and the boot camp after, we have expanded a lot. We have a lot of heroes that we’re confident in. For me, I have a lot of different heroes that I can play, a lot of position fours that are viable. The cores that are good, our core players are confident in. It’s easy for us to draft for this team because we’re comfortable in our strats and we have a lot of different heroes.
So I wanted to backtrack a little bit. You were a superstar support player on OG. You then went to EG to become a captain and later stopped. So I wanted to ask what was the transition like? What did you think about becoming a captain? What were the difficulties?
The exciting part for me was that I would be able to take a lot of responsibility. I felt like that was probably the most impactful role for me. I was really confident in my own ability. It was somewhere where I could make sure I could have the most impact on the team I was playing on. The other aspect was that I was playing with four players that I really wanted to play it at the time. So it was it was a pretty easy decision for me. I felt like after OG, I wanted to try something new because I was in my first year. There was no bad blood between any of the members, but I felt like I had a good opportunity to try something else. It was early in my career so I didn’t settle too much in one role. So I also tried to play captain. So it was just it was a very good opportunity for me to take some responsibility. What was the rest of the question?
Okay, you took responsibility. You had a very good year up to TI7, then you stopped. As we’ve gone over, it was a successful year for you, so why did you stop captaining after TI7?
A mix of things. I still feel like I could probably be a captain for a team. It will probably happen sometime in the future. It will probably happen with the team where I’m building it myself. Probably far away in the future, a couple of years or something like that. After TI7, it was a big loss for us and a lot of it was on me. I felt like it would be hard for me to rebuild the trust that the team had in me. So basically it was a team decision. People wanted me to play four again because they felt like neither me nor zai could play four on that team. I was pretty fortunate because zai decided to leave the team and it was probably either me or zai. Everybody was fine with each other so…I don’t know if I would have been kicked, but I might have left if we had no other solution after that TI. For me, zai kind of let me have the four role on this team. So we needed a new captain and everyone was really excited to play with Fear again. So at that time it was not a very hard decision and everybody was happy about the outcome.
So during this period when you were a captain how would you describe yourself? For instance, there are tactical stye leaders. Charismatic captains that get the players to buy into their ideas. There’s also the type who lead by example. What kind of leader do you think you were during that time?
Well I think if you compare back then to now, there’s a big difference because teams have coaches to draft for them. I think for me it would have helped me a lot if I would have been able to put that responsibility away and just be like the in-game captain. Sure I’d be part of the drafting, but not have it be my responsibility. The way I see it, when you have a coach drafting for you, the five players can be one unity. But when you have a player drafting for you sometimes that player will be separate. It’s a separate role so it will have a different type of responsibility. So for us now we have both Fly and Bulba.
Bulba takes a lot of responsibility for drafting and the entire strategy. So we’re pretty meshed. For me last year I wanted to be a part of the team, so I was one of the players, but somebody has to the drafting. It’s hard to explain, but I wanted people to feel comfortable with me. Because I know before that they played with a captain that was kind of separate or very strict and had his own ideas. So I was very open and I let everybody have their say. So if we were preparing a team and draft, I would let them know what my plans were. If they had anything against it, I’d let them have their say. Then after that I’d say, “No, I can see your point, but I think it’s fine.” Or I’d say, “OK let’s do something else.” I wanted everyone to be comfortable. I guess I was trying to be very diplomatic in a way, make sure everybody was heard and then make everyone feel good about it.
You bring up a pretty interesting point about the drafting. There is a level of separation between the drafter and the rest of the team. So if you were to become this game leader in the future way far in the future would you make sure you have like a coach who you can rely on to draft?
I think that is just how it’s naturally going to go for every team. This role of just being a good drafter and that’s the reason why you’re on the team is going to fall off . You don’t really need that anymore, you’d rather have a person that’s good in game. I would say there’s a big difference between being an in-game leader and a drafter. Those two things are pretty separated. Obviously you need to have a good idea about what the draft is supposed to do. But other than that I think every team will naturally try to go away from having your drafter in the team. I don’t think there’s any positives about it. I think at some point every team will have their coach like normal sports. The coaches will set the strategy and then the players will play. They will still have a person on the field that will you know…
Run the game?
Yea, run the game. Make sure everybody is on on the same page. I think at some point soon, probably really soon people won’t have these…there’s a couple of captains that are on teams because they’re just good captains or good drafters. I think those might just become coaches instead. They’ll be a different wave of a five position players that are more like good players like you see with LGD with xNova. He’s a really good player, but he’s just a five player or like pieliedie. There’s a few of these that don’t draft but are just position fives. I think that will be a role that’s going to be more up and coming and drafters will be retired players or that are five players now, but will just be drafters.
For the next question, let’s talk about strategy. How does your strategy work in terms of space and pressure. For instance, you push off this area of the map and this gives you an objective or information to play off the rest of the map. How do you envision the idea of space and pressure when it comes to Dota 2?
I don’t think I can answer that right now because it’ll reveal too much.
Could you talk about it in terms of your old team, like OG two years ago?
Sure. I think there was a period of time on OG where every team has sort of playing like CDEC. That was mainly because Rosh was on the bottom right side of the map. So basically what CDEC did was they started to play around bot lane. When they were Dire, they went into the Radiant jungle. It had a lot of different variations of what would happen. What we did on OG, was–at Frankfurt Major for example–we put s4 and Fly in the offlane because that would mean that we had the pressure on that lane from the start.
What you see now is that some carry players will start on the safe lane on Fire, but they will rotate to the offlane pretty really. There’s still some teams now that put their carry offlane just because he doesn’t have to make the rotation. That just means you’re on the right side of the map that you want to be on from the start of the game to the end of the game. So you don’t have to rotate out of a bad lane for you.
I guess most teams have a tendency to…now on radiant also invading the topside jungle. That’s probably why radiant is favored because most teams there will still go bottom on Dire and people do the same on Radiant. But the Radiant have Roshan now because Rosh moved to the top left. So Radiant have a bit of an advantage when they swap the two jungles, so Radiant gets top left side and Dire gets bottom right. It’s an advantage for Radiant. So there’s a couple of things that changed over the years and it’s still changing. People are trying to make new ways to get an advantage on the different sides.
This is your third year at TI. First on OG, then on EG last year and this year. How are you going prepare for the playoffs? I don’t mean strategically or tactically, but rather mentally. TI is a pressure cooker, Suma1L said last year that everyone plays worse Dota because of the pressure.
So I think there’s a really big difference between the two previous years and this year. In the past two years, I was on a team that was a favorite. On OG we were heavy favorites to win the tournament. Last year we weren’t a top favorite, but we were considered one of the best teams.
This year we qualified in second place in the NA qualifiers. It’s a big difference in terms of pressure and expectations. We’re playing against Team Secret, who were top eight in the DPC so they’re going into the game as favorites. It’s a completely different tournament and I can’t really say what’s going to happen because I haven’t experienced that type of TI before. But I will say that I feel like I’m in a lot better position. I feel like I’m not stressed at all. I feel like we’re just taking it one step at a time and whatever happens will happen. We’re always going to try our best and our best is good enough to win the tournament, that would be great. If it’s not good enough, then we’ll try to get better next year. That’s what I’m thinking. I think Artour, I know what he’s thinking and he’s sort of on the same boat as me. Suma1L is a different person. He goes into every tournament expecting to win so I can’t speak on his behalf. But for me and Artous this is a very different TI than it usually is.